Drug Testing for Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Pennsylvania

Drug Testing for Workers’ Compensation Benefits

The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act provides medical treatment and loss of income benefits for injured workers. The no-fault system does not require injured employees to prove negligence to obtain benefits. It also does not prohibit employees from receiving benefits, even if they are partially at fault for their work-related injury.

An employer or insurance company could deny a workers’ compensation claim based on an employee’s drug use. 

Section 301(a) of Article 3 of the Workers’ Compensation Act provides that:

  • An employee is not entitled to workers’ comp benefits if the employee’s injury was self-inflicted
  • An employee is not entitled to workers’ comp benefits if the employee’s injuries were caused by the employee’s violation of the law, including the use of illegal drugs

If the employer or insurance company denies the workers’ comp claim based on drug use, the employer has the burden of proving that the employee was using drugs. Therefore, employers often require drug testing after a work accident to gather evidence of drug use.

Pennsylvania does not have a law prohibiting drug testing employees after an injury or accident. In addition, the state does not restrict or regulate drug testing by private employers. Therefore, an employer could use whatever type of drug test it deems appropriate for the situation, including blood, urine, hair strand, or breath test.

As an employee, you should understand your legal rights. Drug testing is not always accurate. 

Some drug tests have a wide margin of error. Furthermore, errors and other factors could produce false results. Talk with a Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer about your rights regarding drug testing in Pennsylvania. 

Does OSHA Have Rules for Drug Testing in Workers’ Compensation Cases?

OSHA has anti-retaliation provisions that prohibit employers from using post-incident drug testing to retaliate against workers who file a workers’ comp claim. The OSHA rules do not prohibit drug testing after a work accident. However, the rule requires an “objectively reasonable basis” for drug testing after a worker reports a work-related illness or injury. 

Examples of incidents that would allow drug testing after a worker files a workers’ compensation claim include, but might not be limited to:

  • The company randomly drug-tests its employees 
  • The drug test is unrelated to a work injury or accident 
  • The company tests all employees who could have been involved in or contributed to the injury as part of the investigation into the cause of a workplace accident
  • Drug testing is required by U.S. Department of Transportation regulations or other federal laws
  • Drug testing performed according to a state’s workers’ compensation laws

Employers with a valid reason for drug testing or a justifiable reason to believe the employee was using illegal drugs when injured are probably within their rights to drug test after a work injury. The facts and circumstances of the situation must be examined to determine whether the employer violated the law.

What Happens If I Have a Prescription for Medical Marijuana and I Am Hurt At Work?

Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act makes it legal for patients with a valid medical marijuana prescription to use the substance to treat specific conditions. However, your employer can test you for medical marijuana use at work, even if you have a valid prescription. 

Employers can discipline an employee who is under the influence of medical marijuana at work. Workers whose job performance is below the standard for their job because of medical marijuana use can face disciplinary actions. Therefore, an employer could deny workers’ comp benefits if the employee tests positive for medical marijuana.

Contact a workers’ comp attorney immediately if this situation happens to you. An attorney might be able to argue that the medical marijuana in your system did not impair your job performance. In some cases, a worker might not have used medical marijuana in days, but the drug test detected the substance. 

What Should You Do If You Are Drug Tested After a Work Injury in Pennsylvania?

Refusing a drug test after a work injury could result in a denial of your workers’ compensation benefits. You could also be fired for refusing a drug test against company policy. However, a positive drug test could also have the same effect. 

Employers must follow federal and state laws regarding drug testing. Also, a positive drug test does not mean you were under the influence of the drug at the time of your accident or that your job performance was impaired. 

There could be one or more defenses to a positive drug test after a work-related injury or workplace accident. Seek legal advice from an experienced Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer. An attorney can investigate the case to determine a strategy to fight for your workers’ compensation benefits. 

Contact Our Workers’ Compensation Law Firm in Philadelphia Today To Get Help With Your Case

To learn more and get the help you deserve, call Zavodnick & Lasky Personal Injury Lawyers at (215) 875-7030 or contact us online.
You can also visit our law firm at 123 S Broad St #1220, Philadelphia, PA 19109.